Getting Smart About Sprawl?
URBAN SPRAWL DEVASTATING CITY AND RURAL NEIGHBORHOODS, COMMUNITY GROUPS FIGHT FOR SMARTER GROWTH POLICIES
Below is a news announcement from the National Neighborhood Coalition.
Urban, older suburban, and rural communities are fighting back against the destructive impact of urban sprawl, says a new study by The National Neighborhood Coalition. Sprawl, the report says, has drained resources, jobs and families from city neighborhoods, leaving behind intense pockets of poverty, strangling the suburbs in traffic congestion, and isolating residents from jobs and services.
The study, "Smart Growth, Better Neighborhoods: Communities Leading the Way" details the problems created by unchecked growth and examines how grassroots organizations are tackling the crisis. It features 15 case studies of community, neighborhood, and faith-based organizations working to promote a strong community voice in growth decisions and ensure an equitable distribution of regional resources among all communities especially low-income and minority neighborhoods. The study stresses transportation, housing, education, planning and land use, and integrating neighborhood goals with regional planning.
"Community groups are not trying to stop growth," emphasizes Betty Weiss, Executive Director of the National Neighborhood Coalition. "They want to find more efficient and equitable ways to grow that restore a sense of community to the places we all live."
The report includes case studies from Texas, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Maine. Examples of case studies include:
- New Schools Better Neighborhoods, a Los Angeles organization, is working to involve neighborhood residents in the decision making process for selecting, designing and programming new schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Itís creating small, community-centered schools that serve as anchors to neighborhoods and provide a range of services that can be used by everyone in the community.
- Handmade in America, under its Rural Leadership Development Initiative in Asheville, NC, trains civic leaders to plan and manage improvement projects in rural communities that are too small to have professionally trained town managers and planners.
- Community Action Committee in Lehigh Valley, PA is working with business leaders to create a regional development plan based on the assumption that the region cannot survive without healthy cities. Its plans call for tax base sharing, consolidation of municipal services at the county level, and regional land use planning.
- Citizensí Planning and Housing Association is engaging citizens in developing an agenda for the long-term vitality of Baltimore. The association focuses on regional transportation planning and regional tax base sharing to reduce fiscal disparities among jurisdictions.
- New Kensington CDC is rallying residents in Philadelphia to stop illegal trash dumping in their neighborhoods and works to reclaim littered, abandoned lots as parks, gardens, and side yards.
The National Neighborhood Coalition released its study September 15 with a briefing at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC.
The National Neighborhood Coalition, formed in 1979, is a national alliance of nearly 100 local, regional and national groups working to strengthen community-based organizations and help build healthy and sustainable communities. Its members include national nonprofits, faith-based organizations, foundations, labor organizations, financials institutions, neighborhood organizations, trade associations and others.
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